The foundations of homes are very different from one to the next. Some builders like crawlspaces, some like basements, and some like slab foundations. Some homes even have all three.
Even so, if your home is on top of a crawl space, you could run into a number of problems.
How Crawl Space Vents Came to Be
Old building science said that the best way to get rid of humidity and moisture in homes was to let air in through the crawl space. This means putting in a lot of vents so that air can flow through the crawl space.
Most of the time, these vents have a fitted cover made of wood, metal, or mesh. They are sometimes put up to keep out rodents and other animals, but they can’t stop small animals and insects like spiders, fleas, and carpenter ants.
A study done for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by Advanced Energy, a nonprofit energy consulting group, found that crawl space vents actually bring unwanted moisture into your home and cause other problems.
Vents let damage into your crawl space.
Think about this: During the winter, your crawlspace is full of cold air, which makes the floor above it cold. It also cools your water heater, furnace, heating ducts, and hot water pipes. Because of this, your utilities have to work harder to keep you warm, which wastes energy.
In the summer, hot, humid air comes into the crawl space, and the earth naturally cools it. This humidity makes your pipes, wood, and other cool things form condensation. When there is a lot of water in a crawl space, there is likely to be a lot of mold. This mold can spread up to where people live, which could cause breathing problems like asthma.
Your crawl space is where air comes from.
Building experts say that up to 50 percent of the air you breathe on the first floor of your home came straight from your crawl space. So, whatever is in the air of your crawl space is in the air of your house, and you are breathing it.
A study by the Building America Solution Center found that vented crawl spaces use 15–18% more energy for heating and cooling. They also let moisture and bad smells into your home.
Also, a home’s energy bills are likely to be higher if the ducts are in a crawlspace that has a vent. Leaks in a duct system let air that hasn’t been cooled into the air conditioning system. This can raise energy costs by 20–30%. Leaky ducts in the crawlspace can also make the air inside more humid.
Also, letting moist air into your crawl space can damage the way your house is built. Wet wood is more likely to rot, which could threaten the foundation of your house.
How enclosing your crawl space can protect your home
Science about crawl spaces looks very different now. To protect your crawl space, it is now best to have a closed crawl space, also called a “encapsulated” crawl space.
Enclosed crawl spaces always do a better job of keeping out moisture that comes in from the wet ground or from warm, humid air.
Advanced Energy says that the relative humidity (RH), or the amount of water vapor in the air, is also much lower in encapsulated crawl spaces. When you get rid of or cut down on too much moisture in your crawl space, wood rot is less likely to happen and your house will stay strong for years.
Enclosing your crawl space also cuts down on musty smells, allergens like mold and dust mites, and makes the air quality in your whole house much better.
At Crawl Space Makeover, we have a state-of-the-art crawl space sealing solution that will make your home more energy efficient and turn your damp, nasty crawl space into a dry, healthy, usable space.
Book a free inspection of your crawl space today to find out all the ways it can help you.